Photography is fun, rewarding and creative, no matter which genre you shoot. But just like any other hobby or profession, it has its challenges and things that are difficult to conquer. Nigel Danson asked his Instagram followers what they find to be the hardest about photography, and he got nearly 2,000 responses. He analyzed them all and came up with seven things people find the most difficult. Let’s see if you can relate.
Nigel’s video and his followers’ responses mainly refer to landscape photography, since he is a landscape photographer himself. However, I believe many photographers could relate to one of these points, regardless of the genre.
One of the most frequent answers people gave to Nigel’s question was: focus. How to get everything in focus, where to focus in woodland, how to get a perfectly sharp photo… Many people struggle with something about focus. But of course, there are ways to achieve a perfectly sharp photo and/or get everything in focus.
First, remember: the wider the lens, the more you’ll have in focus. You rely on hyperfocal distance, but for some types of photos, it doesn’t work (such as photos where you have the mountains in a distance). In this case, think about the furthest subject that is supposed to be in focus. If you’re shooting in woodland, Nigel suggests that you focus on the most prominent tree.
2. Finding interesting places to shoot in urban/boring areas
Another problem many people face is finding interesting locations in urban areas, or in their own neighborhoods and cities. If you shoot portraits, you can find awesome portrait locations even in your neighborhood (and even if it’s an ugly or boring one). And if you’re a landscape or travel photographer, returning to the same place to shoot can be awesome and have a positive effect on your photography. Just keep your eyes open, always searching for interesting compositions and subjects.
3. Finding time and motivation to shoot
I believe this is particularly applicable to landscape photographers because it takes up a lot of your time. But I also think that travel photographers, for example, could relate as well. In a way, you can relate this point to the previous one: find a nice spot in your hometown or your neighborhood and spend some time there, relaxing and taking photos. When you take your dog out, bring your camera along. Make good use of a sunrise: once or twice a month get up before sunrise, spend an hour or two shooting, and go on with your day. You don’t need to travel far and spend all day outside to take stunning photos.
4. Woodland photography
Around ten percent of people have responded to Nigel’s question saying that they find photographing in woodlands to be very challenging. Nigel admits that it also took him some time to start making the most of it. Here are three tips he gives for all of you who want to take better woodland photos:
- Use your phone: take your phone, walk around a bit and search for good composition, focusing on nothing but that. Capture some photos with your phone, and then return with your camera.
- Find one location and return: woodland changes a lot in different weather conditions and in a different light. So, find one location you like and return there a couple of times, you’ll always find something new and interesting.
- Shoot in fog: fog transforms the scene and makes it much easier to find a good composition. Plus, it adds drama to the scene.
Many photographers have also said that they find it difficult to find the right locations and then go back to them again. It’s true, it can take a lot of time and a lot of returning to the same location to get the light the way you want it and to understand how it reacts with the environment. But you can make it easier by choosing just one location and spend an entire day there, shooting at different times of day. For example, when you’re traveling, choose a few locations and shoot a different one each day, don’t just run around and shoot dozens of locations during one day.
One of the most common problems Nigel’s followers listed was using lighting in different conditions. Apparently, this also applies to landscape photographers, but I’m sure that anyone who shoots exclusively in natural light encounters the same challenge. Nigel believes that this comes from preconceived ideas that only golden hour is what makes a good light. However, you should learn to embrace every light that Mother Nature gives you when you get to the scene. Nigel suggests the following:
- Have pre-planned locations: think about locations you can visit in different lighting and weather conditions. For example, rainy days and fog are good for shooting in woodlands, overcast days can give you a great mood when shooting waterfalls, and sunny days with fluffy clouds are ideal for shooting valleys.
- Look at how light changes composition
- Find a location that works in any light and shoot it at different lighting conditions.
As many as 23% of people think that finding the right composition is the most difficult thing about photography. I tend to agree with this one, especially when I shoot film and don’t have the luxury to try out a few compositions. Nigel has three suggestions for conquering this challenge:
Keep it simple: remove things from the scene instead of adding them. If something isn’t contributing to the scene, just leave it out.
Balance your images: find the balance between the lighting, shapes and colors in your images
Use a longer lens: okay, shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens can make it more difficult to keep everything in focus (see point #1). But it will be helpful for removing unwanted elements from the scene.
And what about you? Which of these things do you find the most difficult? And what would you add to the list?